In cricket, two teams of eleven players compete against each other on a field with a pitch of 22 yards (20 meters) in length and a wicket at each end consisting of two bails balanced on three stumps in the center of the field. As the game progresses, a player on the fielding side, referred to as the bowler, pushes the ball from the far end of the pitch to the other end, where it is caught by a wicket keeper. In cricket, players on the batting side gain runs by hitting the bowled ball with a bat and sprinting between the wickets, while players on the bowling side attempt to prevent this by keeping the ball inside the field and getting it to either wicket, thus dismissing each batter in turn (so they are "out"). When a batter is bowled, the ball strikes his stumps and dislodges his bails. He may also be dismissed by the fielding side collecting a hit ball before it reaches the ground, or by striking a wicket with the ball before he can complete a run across the crease line in front of the wicket to finish a run. The game is over when all 10 batters have been retired, and the teams switch places. A total of two umpires judge the game, with a third umpire and a match referee assisting them in international competitions if necessary.
From Twenty20 matches, in which each side bats for a single 20-over innings and the game usually lasts three hours, to Test matches, which are played over five days, there is a kind of cricket to suit everyone. Cricketers traditionally dress in all-white uniforms, however in limited overs cricket, players dress in the colors of their respective clubs or teams instead. Protective gear, in addition to the standard equipment, is worn by certain players to protect them from damage caused by the ball, which is composed of compressed leather with a slightly elevated stitched seam and a cork core sandwiched between layers of closely coiled string.
Early records of cricket date back to the mid-16th century in the south-east of England. It spread from across globe with the growth of the British Empire, and the first international matches were held in the second half of the 19th century, marking the beginning of the modern era of soccer. There are more than 100 members of the International Cricket Council (ICC), with twelve of them being full-time members who participate in Test matches. The ICC is the game's regulatory body. The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in London is responsible for the upkeep of the game's regulations, known as the Laws of cricket. The Indian subcontinent, Australasia, the United Kingdom, southern Africa, and the West Indies are the primary regions where the sport is practiced and followed. It has also reached an international level in women's cricket, which is organized and played in a separate league. With seven One Day International titles, including five World Cups, Australia has won more One Day International trophies than any other country and has been the top-rated Test team more times than any other country in the history of international cricket.